The 5 Minute Crag
FAs- G.Cornell and G.Castillo, 2013-2015
The 5 Minute Crag: as that is how long the three different approaches take to touch rock, add on a few more minutes to gear up and start climbing! Makes for a nice afternoon climbing adventure from Calgary and gets evening sun.
Located 7.6-7.9km from the Sibbald-Powderface Junction(or 6km from Hwy#40), the 5 Minute Crag has a long climbing season as does most of the cliffs facing south along Sibbald, however this low one faces directly west so it gets lots of evening sun yet is barely visible from the road. Sibbald Pond or Lusk Creek parking lots making good staging areas as they have bathrooms which will always help lessen impact.
APPROACHES – The cliff itself is about 200m wide so if your planning on climbing on the right end(south) then it may be best to park somewhere close to the texas gate and follow a piecemeal trail for few minutes into woods which then exits at the large boulder slope. A barbed wire fence starts at the texas gate and runs directly into the woods and stops near the cliff. Hike up the bouldery slope carefully to the base of your chosen route. The routes near the north end can be had by parking somewhere near the sharp corner of the Sibbald Road between the path to the 5 Mile Rappel Cliff and a forestry road. Walk into the woods from here a minute and zig-zag up the left edge of the bouldery slope left of a large tree, to your chosen route – please note in spring and early summer this way is not possible as the forest and boulders are submerged in flood water. The third approach option is to park off the road just east of the sharp bend kinda near a permanent swamp on the south side of the road. Hike up a steep mossy knoll facing the road which soon flattens out and find bits of animal trail that takes you to the very north end of the crag which is obvious ahead, this avoids walking up the boulder slope entirely. Just before getting to the cliff, a old trail suddenly takes some form and goes up SE way passing some bits of rock and goes up and within 10 minutes puts you at a remote, pleasantly chill cutblock.
This is helmet terrain for everyone visiting as loose rock is about, a load of loose rock was trundled during the first ascents, especially evident on the first 5m of Charley Pride uncovering some nice big cams placements. Furthermore resist the urge to hike around and set up top ropes as the anchors are dangerous to get to and are recommended that they should only be led.
Bring extra sling to rap from trees where no rap bolts are.
Routes listed left-to-right or east-to-west:
Hippie Farming, 5.7 – a fun route to start with, albeit the shortest at the crag. Boulder up a fun crack and move right to a corner. Surmount the bulge to a ledge, watch for good finger slots low down to help you along. Follow up the crack to the 2-bolt belay. (12m) Medium nuts, cams#2-4, large hexes.
Just left of Hippie Farming- is an abandoned incomplete route with one high bolt visible and gear needed to reach that. From a tiny bay, either climb into a groove and then up left (horizontal jugs and gear) near the arete to the bolt, traverse right along the cliff edge until you can mantle up to the same bolt belay as for Hippie Farming. Or start on the left blocks of the bay and go for a horizontal white jug rail and go up to the bolt.
Intensive Care, 5.5 – 5m right of Hippie Farming is a bay of grass and a low belay bolt. Climb the crack (cams #2-4??) and move right at the top where a ledge to the right appears. Go right and straight up dark fun ledgy rock(small nuts), then hike to the tree. Rap off tree.(18m) There is a great place to test out a #1 Ballnut once you get onto the dark ledge, directly at eye height. Be careful of loose rock upon the hike to the tree belay.
Charley Pride, 5.7 -hike along the base of the crag to the next 3 routes which are above a lower cliff band and can be accessed by a scrambling up at a low point directly below the amazing crack route The Good Silverware. Hike up a tiny trail above the lower band of rock ending at a large tree and single belay bolt which can be backed up with a nearby crack. Go up juggy ledges left of the bolt but soon move back right on stepped rock to a ledge(Cams #2-4). Follow the right facing, slabby corner (small nuts/cams)up and turn the tiny overlap on the right and up to a 2 bolt belay. Rap. (20m) The upper crack is nice fun albeit too short however the end is a bit of a sting mantling over the final ledge from any side. A star route for the cliff. The grey corner directly above the belay is unclimbed.
Detours, 5.7- this route climbs an obvious wide crack starting at a single belay bolt that can be backed up. Climb in from the right up blocky rock. Go up the crack and exit right via a short crack to a ledge with a 2-bolt belay behind a large tree. Rap. (23m)
The Good Silverware, 5.9 A1 – a standout slanting crack above the access to the upper cliffband. From a flat dirt pad and single belay bolt, get onto the wall heading right and up the arete to a flat stance where a good #1 cam can be slotted and also the site of where a huge boulder released making the lead here extremely awkward. Make tricky move up and left to tiny chalky crack directly under the roof. Move out right and make a few moves of aid up the crack until a footpad on the right wall allows free climbing – if you have nylon ladders bring them to make the moves faster. Continue up the crack to a beak-shaped mini roof that ends the crack. Pull over using a crack on the left side of it and up to a ledge with multiple gear options and juggy rock. Climb up some refreshing wispy grass going left to a 2-bolt belay. Rap. (30+m) Bring few small nuts and medium/large nuts, cams #.5-4 and/or small hexes. A very varied and fun route with amazing and fun gear to place as the route changes in nature every few meters.
The Jimmy Greens, 5.7 – this better-than-it-looks-route has to be accessed further south from the rockwall trail just past a massive fallen tree in a dirty gully. Hike up right of this and walk left to the end of the ledge and a single belay bolt. Take a good crack to a tree. Go up right facing slab/groove that appears mossy but doesn’t impose upon the climb. A resting stance for slotting good gear for the final splitter crack is then tackled from the left side of the crack. Climb up the crack to boulder, move around right and up left to a tree belay. Rap.(25m) Recommended gear is medium nuts, cams#1.5-3, large hexes and sling for tree.